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Escaped Murder Suspect Michael Burham Captured In Pennsylvania Forest

Conowingo, PA – The murder suspect with survivalist skills who escaped from the Warren County Jail facility and fled into the woods earlier this month was apprehended after a tense encounter with two Pennsylvania landowners late Saturday afternoon.

Police previously described the fugitive, 34-year-old Michael Burham, as a “survivalist” with military training and the know-how to stay concealed and withstand the elements, WKRN reported.

The accused killer, rapist, and kidnapper escaped from the Warren County Jail on July 6, according to police.

Investigators said Burham climbed up onto a pullup exercise machine out in the jail recreation area and used it to gain access to the roof, the Erie Times-News reported.

He then allegedly used tied-up bedsheets to slide off of the roof and made his escape.

The facility is situated near the Allegheny National Forest, WKRN reported.

More than 200 law enforcement officers from 15 different local, state, and federal agencies participated in the ensuing nine-day manhunt, according to ABC News.

“Burnham is a self-taught survivalist with military experience and could be potentially holed up in a wooded area near the city,” Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) Lieutenant Colonel George Bivens said during a press conference shortly after the high-profile escape. “We are considering him armed and dangerous, and we are cautioning residents if they see him or believe that he may be anywhere near them that they should not attempt to approach him.”

Lt. Col. Bivens said that at approximately 4 p.m. on July 15, a married couple living on Jackson Run Road in Conowingo heard one of their dogs barking profusely near the rear portion of their property, so they loaded up into their golf cart to go see what was happening, WPVI reported.

When the reached the area, they encountered a dirty man wearing prison pants that were turned inside out.

They said he claimed he was just out camping, according to WPVI.

“The owner of the property recognized him, got his wife back into the golf cart and drove away from there so that he could immediately contact us as Burham fled into the woods,” Lt. Col. Bivens told reporters.

Law enforcement officers and police K9s descended on the area and tracked Burham through the forest, WPVI reported.

He was ultimately apprehended at gunpoint just before 6 p.m.

Lt. Col. Bivens said the fugitive was wet, dirty, and appeared to be “tired and worn out” after his capture, WPVI reported.

He was not carrying a gun when he was caught, but investigators said they located stockpile bags containing ammunition in at least two different calibers during the search, according to ABC News.

Lt. Col Bivens said it was “a great relief” to have Burham back in custody, WPVI reported.

“All of us were always concerned that we would end up with a citizen harmed in some way, or even one of the officers harmed,” he said. “You’re always worried about things like that, so to not have that play out, it’s a good day.”

An escape charge has been added to the litany of offenses Burham is presently facing in three separate states, ABC News reported.

He was the target of yet another massive multistate manhunt earlier this year before he was ultimately apprehended in Huger, South Carolina, on May 24.

A federal arrest warrant from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York was issued for Burham on May 22 for “the unlawful flight to avoid prosecution,” according to the FBI.

Investigators said Burham was wanted for the rape of 34-year-old Kalamae “Kala” Hodgkin when he allegedly shot her to death at her home in Jamestown, New York, on May 11, WCIV reported.

Hodgkin leaves behind three children, ages eight, 11, and 14, according to WIVB.

A short while after Hodgkin was shot, Jamestown police were called to Burham’s ex-girlfriend’s home in Jamestown for a report of an attempted break-in.

His ex-girlfriend told police Burham was the one who tried to force his way into her home, and said he set her car on fire when he was unable to get inside the house, WCIV reported.

Burham later kidnapped an elderly couple at gunpoint in Sheffield, Pennsylvania, according to police.

The couple said Burham took their vehicle and drove them to North Charleston, South Carolina, before he “released them physically unharmed,” according to the FBI.

They allegedly identified Burham as their abductor, WCIV reported.

Investigators said they found a note inside the couple’s car that the suspect had written to his father.

“I’m not sorry for what I did, however I do feel terrible about the children,” the letter read, according to WCIV.

The Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) said in a press release on May 23 that deputies responded to Halfway Creek Road at approximately 11 a.m. that day after receiving a call from a concerned citizen regarding a “suspicious male” in the area.

Deputies located a man on South Hampton Road who matched the description provided by the citizen.

But when deputies began speaking with him, the suspect allegedly provided them with a fake name and took off running on foot.

“Deputies did pursue the subject, but he was able to get away,” the BCSO said. “The subject dropped a bookbag and inside were articles that confirmed Burham’s identity.”

Police begged the public for help during a press conference the following day.

Hundreds of law enforcement officers combed the area by ground and air, including the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole, and Pardon, the FBI, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Mount Pleasant police, Charleston police, Summerville police, North Charleston police, the BCSO, and the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office.

Burham was ultimately apprehended and extradited back to New York, WICU reported.

He was transferred to the Warren County Jail in Pennsylvania on June 19, where he was being held on a $1 million bond, according to WJET.

Burham faces 21 criminal charges in Warren County alone, The Post-Journal reported.

He also currently faces charges in both South Carolina and New York, according to WGRZ.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin


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